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I Met Charlie Todd!

I’ve known about Charlie Todd and Improv Everywhere since he uploaded Frozen Grand Central to YouTube in 2008. I was fascinated by their creativity and boldness from the start. I went back and watched all their videos and read all the blogs from their missions – it was captivating. I subscribed to their YouTube channel and I joined the now-disbanded “Urban Prankster Network” online.

Charlie Todd and Me

Charlie Todd and Me

Charlie and I have exchanged emails and messages over the years after I helped co-found Improv AZ and I started digging into the legal issues surrounding flash mobs and pranks. He was always friendly and helpful, but since we lived on opposite sides of the country, we never met in person.

A few weeks ago, I got a note from Charlie saying that he was debuting his film “We Cause Scenes” at SXSW. The film follows the story of Improv Everywhere from the beginning to where it is now. I love this story because Charlie didn’t start out trying to create this group. He was just a guy who was having fun with his friends and he embraced the opportunities that allowed it to grow into his career. I was so excited. I immediately put his film at the top of my SXSW to-do list.

I met Charlie about an hour before the film in the convention center. When I saw his familiar face, threw up my arms, and screeched, “Charlie Todd!” I gave him a big hug and chatted for a few minutes before claiming my spot in line. It was so great to meet him in person but because we’ve been conversing for years, it was like seeing an old friend.

The movie was fantastic. If it comes to your city, go see it. It’s a great story.

During the Q&A after the movie, Charlie announced that Improv Everywhere was doing an MP3 Experiment in Austin. I of course rearranged my schedule so I could go. We were given a place, a time, an MP3 to download, and we were told to wear a certain color shirt and bring an uninflated balloon. You’ll have to wait to see the video to see what we did, but we had a blast. It was so great to do a mission with my prankster brothers and sisters.

I give my friend Jeff Moriarty a lot of credit for helping me become the person I am today. If he hadn’t organized the first No Pants Ride in Phoenix, there never would have been an Improv AZ and I wouldn’t be a flash mob attorney and blogger. Watching Charlie’s movie reminded me that I have to give him a lot of credit too. He was the one who came up with the idea for the original No Pants Subway Ride and he was the one who decided to invite the world to participate in 2009. If he hadn’t done that, he wouldn’t have given Jeff his launch into the official prank/flash mob world.

So thank you Charlie. Without you, I wouldn’t be the person I am today.

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Kiss-in at the New Chick-fil-A? Maybe Not.

I was driving through my neighborhood over the weekend and I saw that the nearby Denny’s that closed down recently is going to be turned into a Chick-fil-A. I wasn’t surprised to see that the Denny’s closed given how popular the nearby “Gay Denny’s” is.

My initial response was “Eeeewwww.”

I’m not a big fan of fast food so I’m not happy that we’re getting another fast food place in the area, but I was really unhappy about the prospect getting a company with a homophobic reputation in my neighborhood. I wished there was some type of protest we could do to keep them from coming, but given the extent of the construction so far, I don’t think that’s going to happen.

Jamie & Lisa at the Chick-fil-A Kiss-In

Jamie & Lisa at the Chick-fil-A Kiss-In

My next thought was I think I have an obligation to kiss a girl on the new Chick-fil-A’s property when they open. I posted it on my Facebook page, and a friend suggested I play “I Kissed A Girl” on a boom box while I’m doing it. I thought that was pretty awesome, and probably more appropriate for an all-ages audience than the equally awesome “It Gets Better” by Rebecca Drysdale.

I was starting to think having a kiss-in to protest the new Chick-fil-A at 16th Street and Camelback in Phoenix is a really good idea. One of my reporter friends even said she wanted to cover it. I was starting to get kind of excited about this idea when my friend sent me a link to an article that said Chick-fil-A has stopped supporting anti-gay organizations. Wow – they did a really bad job of letting people know that they changed their affiliations.

So maybe we don’t need to have a kiss-in at the new Chick-fil-A. I still don’t support them opening a store in my neighborhood because they either are homophobic and don’t want to broadcast it or they didn’t do their research when they decided where to donate their money.

I’m sure we can find another cause to protest if we need another reason to have a kiss-in.

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Solving the Problem of Bar Exam Travel

My phone rang at 7:50am this past Sunday. Who in their right mind would call me that early in the morning, and on a Sunday? I looked at the Caller ID on my phone and saw that it was my friend, Erin. We’d tweeted at each other earlier that morning so she knew I was up.

Erin was in a panic. She was at the airport to fly from Phoenix to Portland to take the Oregon Bar Exam this week.  She was supposed to change planes in Denver and her flight was delayed due to the storm in Colorado. She was petrified about getting trapped in Denver and was calling for advice. I calmed her down and she ended up changing her plans to a direct flight.

Virginia Bar Exam by Philip Larson from Flickr

Virginia Bar Exam by Philip Larson from Flickr

Erin’s situation got me thinking – why do you have to go to a state to take their bar exam? I think there should be a national bar exam, but until we get that, it makes more sense to take the bar exam wherever you live. Everyone takes the bar exam on the same days so why not set the system up so you can take any bar exam at any testing location, but throw in an extra fee for people taking other state bar exams? The main fee would go to the state whose bar exam you’re taking and the extra fee would make it worth other state’s while to let you test in their location. If the fee is cheaper than an airplane ticket, everyone wins!

The way the system is now, some states have a 2-day exam and some states have 3. I’d change the system so everyone has a 2-day test and make sure the testing time blocks are all the same (3 hours in the morning, 3 hours in the afternoon). I’d put the out-of-state test takers a separate room or section to make it easier to give those individuals their test questions. The instructions are the same – answer the questions in the time allotted – so that’s not a problem.

I don’t think this idea has a potential problem with cheating more than the current system. Only a moron on the east coast would try to communicate with a west coast test-taker and tell them what’s on the test. When I took the bar exam, we had to be at the test location at 6:45am to start the test at 9am. There would be little if any time for someone in a different time zone to tell another test taker what’s on the test. Plus it’s nearly impossible to get a message to anyone during the test. We were only allowed to bring a clear Ziplock bag into the testing room. It could only hold our keys, wallets, and medication pills (no bottles). You couldn’t bring in anything else – no cell phones, no water, no paper, no pencils, no Kleenex, no feminine hygiene products – nothing! There’s nothing to cheat with, and even if you snuck something in, there were proctors everywhere and they’d notice if you did anything suspicious.

It just makes sense to treat the bar exam like the LSAT or the MPRE – you sign up to take the test at the testing center closest to you. You’ll have to pay a little extra to take another state’s test in your home state, but that’s a better plan than having to risk not being able to take the test at all because you’re trapped in an airport after spending thousands on bar prep, a plane ticket, and a hotel.

Adventures with Sick Rosie

It’s hard being a dog parent. When your baby gets sick, they can’t tell you how they feel. I feel helpless when she’s uncomfortable because I can’t fix it instantly. My rescue basset hound Rosie and I have been on rollercoaster with her health lately.

Rosie's Pills

Rosie’s Pills

A few weeks ago I came home and caught Rosie up on the couch (bad dog). When she jumped down and lay on the floor I noticed she was breathing kind of hard. That was odd because I didn’t think I surprised her that much. I let it go and went on with my day. About an hour later I checked on her and she was still breathing hard. That wasn’t normal so I called the vet and got her an appointment within the hour.

Rosie's Pills in Peanut Butter

Rosie’s Pills in Peanut Butter

The vet said her lungs and heart sounded good and she was oxygenating well so we decided on wait-and-see approach. She said to bring her back if she got worse or exhibited new symptoms – like lack of appetite. That night she wasn’t very hungry. I put her to bed with the thought, “Please still be alive in the morning.” The next morning she wouldn’t eat at all so we zipped back to the vet for a 7:30am appointment.

Rosie Eating her Pills in Peanut Butter

Rosie Eating her Pills in Peanut Butter

The x-rays showed systematic lung inflammation so we ran blood work. By the end of the next day, she was on a steroid, an antihistamine, and an antibiotic. This was Ruth and Rosie’s first joint adventure with pills. Let me tell you, she doesn’t like them. She put up a fight when I put them in the back of her mouth and held her jaws shut. It took three attempts to get them all down the first time. Thankfully one of my fellow dog parents recommended putting her pills in peanut butter. That fixed everything and it’s really cute to watch her lick peanut butter off the spoon.

The steroids make her really thirsty so instead of drinking a bowl of water every day, she’ll drink a bowl of water every 4 hours. All that liquid has to go somewhere and there have been a few accidents while I was out of the house and during the night. Thankfully she does it on the tile where it’s easy to clean.

Of course when you can’t breathe, you can’t go for walks so we had to stop walking completely for a few days and now we’re doing short walks every other day until she’s totally better and gets her stamina back. I’m sure her doggy friends miss her.

I noticed she was adjusting her blankets into a ball and laying her head on it sometimes. I thought that might have made her more comfortable to keep her head and spine in alignment. I tried to make things easier for her by adding a pillow to her bed. She pushed it out of her way and ignored it.

Rosie will be done with all of her meds this week, but there’s a chance she has valley fever. She tested low positive for it, which means she’s either had it or she just got it, and since she’s a rescue dog, I don’t know her full history. We’re going to re-test her white blood count when she’s off the antibiotics. If it’s still elevated, we’ll treat for valley fever.

It’s amazing how easily we fall in love with our pets and how heartbreaking it is when they hurt. I can’t wait for my baby to be well again.

Sleepy Rosie

Sleepy Rosie

Top 10 Undeniable Ruth Posts From 2012

According to my analytics, these were the most popular posts I wrote this year. Enjoy!

MBE Score 2Is That Legal – Freaky the Snowman

Unsolicited Advice: Don’t Open Your MBE Score
This post is kind of irrelevant now since Arizona doesn’t send people their MBE scores in advance anymore.

Don’t Lose Your Personality When You Get Your JD

First Yarn Bomb!

yarn bombWhy Don’t People Return Their Shopping Carts?

How Do You Know If You’re Too Fat To Fly?

How To Survive Law School Finals

Adjusting To Oregon Living

I Was Cyberbullied

First Yarn Bomb – Three Weeks Later

Have a great new year everyone! I’m excited for what’s to come and sharing it with you.

 

Adjusting to Oregon Living

My friends Katie and Tyler Hurst recently relocated to Portland, Oregon. I’m excited for their new adventure but they will be definitely missed around here. To all my Portland friends, please leave comments with your suggestions of places they have to see and people they need to meet (including yourselves)!

Made in Oregon by Phillie Casablanca from Flickr

Tracking their journey from Phoenix to Portland reminded me of my first winter in Oregon. I lived in northern California for my entire life until I went to Oregon State University for college. I went through quite a culture shock. People there say “pop” instead of “soda” and they are way more accepting of other’s freakishness. And everyone’s super friendly – disturbingly so compared to California.

And it rains in Oregon – a lot. It rains from the end of October until the middle of April. In California, we don’t do much when it rained. If they did that in Oregon, the state would shut down for at least 6 months a year. Oregonians just pop their hoods up and keep walking. They don’t even carry umbrellas.  I tried carrying one for about a week and it was a pain to keep track of it.

The first winter in Oregon was the hardest. I had to adjust to the fact that it was not going to stop raining and that the sky was always gray. I became convinced that some children grow up not knowing that the sky is blue. I learned really fast to appreciate the cloud cover because if I woke up and I saw a blue sky in the winter, that meant it was bitter cold outside because there was no cloud cover to hold the heat in. (On the flip side, you get to wear really cute hat, glove, and scarf sets.)

I remember one October night during my freshman year, I was walking to dinner with my friends. It was dark and kind of drizzly. My friends were all native Oregonians. They all had their hoods down and their jackets slightly unzipped at the top. I, on the other hand, had my jacket zipped all the way up, my hood up, and I pulled my drawstrings to help keep the rain off my face. I looked like Kenny from Southpark. My friends laughed at me.

Fast-forward a few months to the beginning of spring. My parents came up from California to visit for a long weekend. They took my then-boyfriend and I on a day trip to the coast to visit the Oregon Coast Aquarium in Newport. They still had Keiko the whale at the time. The aquarium had wonderful outdoor exhibits and my boyfriend and I were running around looking at all the sea life. It was a bit drizzly but nothing bad. We didn’t even need our hoods up. At one point I looked back to see where my parents were and I saw my Mom – looking somewhat miserable – with her jacket zipped up, her hood up, and the drawstrings pulled. That’s when I knew I’d adjusted to Oregon living.

I loved living in Oregon – the people, the quirky independent businesses, and the general accepting culture. I don’t get back there as often as I’d like. I hope you love it there Tyler and Katie! (You may need a UV lamp to help you through your first winter when you won’t see a blue sky for weeks.)

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How I Got A Pony

 

I’m someone who usually doesn’t ask for a lot of material things. When Santa Claus asks me for my Christmas list, I generally ask for gift certificates, and I fill gaps in my wardrobe. I don’t need much to be happy.

One year while I was in college, I visited my parents for Thanksgiving. Mom asked me what I wanted for Christmas and there really wasn’t anything I had my heart set on. I responded, “I don’t know Mom. Get me a pony.”

She got me a pony.

Ok, so it’s 4 inches long and made of plastic, but it’s a pony. It’s been over 10 years since that Christmas and I still have it.

Since that Christmas, I’ve acquired a pony collection. I have my plastic pony, pony socks, a pony calendar, and an awesome pony tote bag. I have not purchased a single piece of my collection, but it keeps growing. That might be because my response to a lot questions and statements is still, “I want a pony.”

In 2010, my parents took a trip to Italy (and took my world-traveling red plastic slinky with them). Mom was so tickled when she saw a pony (ok it was a horse) in a plaza in Florence that was wearing a warning sign that said, “I bite.” She took a picture of it for me.

The pony has acquired a dual meaning for me:

  1. Be careful what you ask for. You just might get it; and
  2. Ask for what you want. You just might get it.

I think they’re both valuable lessons . . . and my pony collection continues to grow.

I like to randomly ask people for a pony, like when my server at a restaurant asks if I need anything else. The reactions I get run the spectrum. A few years ago, I asked a server at Five & Diner, a ‘50’s style diner, for a pony, and she drew a sketch of a pony on my bill. She got a great tip that night, and I still have the sketch on my fridge.

How To Copyright Your Blog

DISCLAIMER: Recent conversations with the Copyright Office have led me to change my stance regarding blogs and copyright registration. Please see this post for my updated views.

I’m working on my first ebook, which is tentative titled The Legal Side of Blogging. During law school, I wrote a substantial research paper on copyright, defamation, and privacy issues related to blogging. I also wrote a blog series called Can My Blog Get Me Sued, Arrested, Fired, or Killed. It made sense to combine the material from these two projects and present them in a way that was useful to the average blogger for my first solo book project.

Copyright Symbols

Image by MikeBlogs via Flickr

Blogs didn’t exist when the Copyright Act was written or last revised. The drafters only considered literary works that are published on paper when they wrote the law. When it comes to copyrighting blogs and websites, the best we can do is to try to find the digital equivalent to the works published on paper and register them accordingly.

The purpose of the Copyright Act is to protect advancements in the arts and sciences by giving authors and artists protection for the works they create. Copyright protection is afforded to every original expression that is fixed in a tangible medium. The law was written to protect things like books, photographs, music, sculptures, paintings, and audiovisual works. Works that exist only in an electronic form are fixed in a tangible medium, and thus, the law protects them.

I’ve spent hours considering the copyright implications of blogging and discussed it at length with my cyberspace law professor. We came to the conclusion that bloggers who blog on a set schedule are most like people who write a column in a newspaper or a magazine; and therefore their blogs should be able to be registered as serial works.

A single work can be registered with the United States Copyright Office for $35. If you publish a blog every week and register it, that will cost $1820 each year. The benefit of having a serial work is that you only have to register it every 3 months for $65, which is only $260 for the year. This saves a lot of time and money.

This week I was working on my ebook and I needed some clarification on how bloggers should go about registering their works, so I called the Copyright Office. The operator was very helpful in directing me to the circular on serial works, and she thought my ebook idea was interesting.  About five minutes later, I had a follow up question so I called her back. She said she was glad I called back because she needed to tell me that blogs cannot be registered as serial works. The only thing a blogger can do is register each post individually!

Seriously?!?!?!

I can see the Copyright Office requiring individual registrations for each post for someone who only writes sporadically; but this rule makes no sense for someone who posts on a weekly basis. They should be given the same protection as any other writer who publishes in a similar fashion in a newsletter, journal, or magazine.  Thankfully, the law protects writers’ and artists’ work the second a work is created, not from the date it is registered. The benefit of copyright registration is that you get to collect attorneys’ fees and statutory damages if someone steals your work and you successfully sue them.

I used to think that the best thing a blogger can do is register their blog as a serial work and use Google Alerts to monitor the internet for possible infringement. With this latest development, it makes more sense not to register every blog post you write, but only those  that you expect someone will try to pass off as their work. You can still use Google Alerts to police the internet for potential infringers. You just won’t be eligible for attorneys’ fees or statutory damages if your work hasn’t been registered within 3 months of publication if you find that someone is passing off one of your blog posts as their own. However, you can probably still get the post removed from the infringer’s website using a takedown notice under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

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My Wardrobe Is On Notice – 1 Year Later

A year ago, I wrote a blog for Unchaotic about my year-long process to clean out my wardrobe.  I tied a piece of yarn around every hanger in my closet.  When I wore a garment, I took off the yarn.  At the end of the year, the initial plan was to get rid of everything that still had a piece of yarn on it.  This plan was based on the idea that if I had not worn something in a year, I’m never going to wear it, so I might as well get rid of it.

Initially, I was going to wait until the end of the year before I threw anything out, but as I started putting yarn on my hangers, I saw items that I knew I had not worn in a while and was never going to wear again so by the end of setting up my closet, I had at least 10 items that were already eliminated from my wardrobe.  Some of it went to charity and the rest went in the trash.  I did another similar wardrobe purge in June when I evaluated what I hadn’t worn yet.

On New Year’s Day, I pulled everything out of my closet that still had a piece of yarn on it. There were about 30 things.  I spent a few hours trying each garment on, remembering why I bought it in the first place, and asking why I hadn’t worn it during the last year.

There were two items that I did not wear in the last year that are wardrobe staples – my white oxford shirt and my black pullover sweater.  These are the type of thing that everyone should have in their wardrobe, and the fact that I did not wear them does mean that they do not have value in my wardrobe.  They could stay.

I also realized that owning wrinkle resistant shirts has made me spoiled and so I did not take the time to iron my other shirts, and thus I did not wear my other shirts for a year.  The ones that I thought I would wear if I did my ironing could stay.  I had a few pieces that I didn’t wear because I assumed that they too big after I lost weight.  After trying them on, I saw that they still fit.  They could stay too.

This project brought a personal issue to the surface that a lot of people have – I sweat regardless of the temperature.  This means I’m more likely to stain my clothes.  (It’s also one of the reasons why I didn’t wear my white oxford during the last year.)  I am one of those people who should never own a silk blouse because I will stain it the first time I wear it.  If I wanted to stop this from happening, I could pay a lot of money to have my armpits botoxed, or I can periodically throw out whatever I stain.  I’ll stick with the latter for now.

I’m glad I did this project.  I feel like I decluttered my closet and have a clearer idea of my personal style.  The garments that I decided to keep despite not wearing them for a year still have their strings on them as a reminder that I should consider donating them if I continue to not wear them.

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SALK Day 3 – The Ruth-Mr. D Story – Part 1

When I launched Sponsor A Law Kid, Darvin and Jane DeShazer were among my first sponsors and they asked to sponsor my entire first week.  After my blog about Mr. D the mushroom master, they said I could write about whatever I wanted.  I decided to take the next few days to share part of the Ruth-Mr. D story.  I’m not sure he remembers our first conversation.

Iguana iguana close up small
Image via Wikipedia

Mr. D teaches sophomore biology and AP biology at St. Vincent High School.  One of his rules is you can earn extra credit in his biology class by keeping a plant or animal alive in the classroom.  When I was a freshman, my sister was in his biology class and kept an iguana named Gomer in his classroom.  Gomer needed fresh food and water every day and he came home on the weekends.  It was common for me to take him out of his terrarium and place him on my shoulder.  Sometimes he would jump from my shoulder to Mom’s and scare the bejuzus out of her – kind of like this guy.

One morning my sister was sick, and she asked me feed Gomer for her.  I had never been in Mr. D’s classroom before.  His room was intimidating to a small freshman like me.  Not only was it at the far end of the senior hallway, it was one of the biggest classrooms in the school with tall heavy lab tables instead of traditional desks.

I entered Mr. D’s room shyly and saw Gomer in his terrarium.  My fear evaporated as I opened the top to change his food and water.  Mr. D was back in his prep area and didn’t really see me come in.  I called out, “Is it ok if I take him out?”  By the time Mr. D looked up to see (1) who this unfamiliar voice belonged to, and (2) what she was talking about, I had picked Gomer up and placed him on my shoulder.

Mr. D seemed surprised by my presence in his classroom.  He asked,”Does that belong to you?”  I explained that Gomer was my sister’s and that I was feeding him in her absence.  I was lucky that my sister was one of the smartest kids in his class, so her reputation proceeded me.  I think he thought that was a precocious freshman who didn’t know that he had a rule against taking pets out of their cages at school.

I think he came to appreciate my bold nature when he had me as a student for the following three years.   He was probably glad when I was a sophomore that Mom decided that it was better for me to have a cactus instead of an animal for extra credit.

Click here for Part 2 of the Ruth-Mr. D story.

Sponsor A Law Kid is my endeavor to pay for my last semester of law school. Today’s sponsors are Darvin and Jane DeShazer. For more information about Sponsor A Law Kid or to see what days are still available for sponsorship, visit my Sponsor A Law Kid page.

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